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CRAFTING AN EFFECTIVE ELEVATOR PITCH FOR YOUR GREEN BUSINESS

AND OTHER SOUND BYTE TIPS

San Francisco, CA • info@GreenBusinessOwner.com • www.GreenBusinessOwner.com Copyright Green Business Owner 2010

Glossary of Terms Green Business Owner 1 Crafting An Effective Elevator Pitch .Effective Business Communications In Our Sound Byte Culture Why Do You Need An Elevator Pitch? Sample Good and Not-So-Good Elevator Pitches 3 Part 2 .Executive Summary The Elevator Pitch: Your Most Important 30 Seconds Thriving in a Challenging Environment: The Advantages of Going Green Document Summary 2 Part 1 .Create Your Elevator Pitch Final Advice 5 8 9 Appendix 1 .

Even the hardiest will eventually wither without one. for three floors. and one for potential investors. And quite simply. The elevator pitch summarizes your business in an exciting. cocktail parties. At the bottom. the VC raises an eyebrow and says. investors. intriguing way that gets clients.. your business may benefit greatly . both current and future. we talk frequently about how green business is a classic “feel good” story. In part 1. Document Summary This document will walk you through the nuts and bolts of elevator pitches. too . the VC listens patiently to the entrepreneur as he pitches his great idea .. and the media impressed.. Now a ‘captive audience’. The document closes with a glossary of relevant terms for your reference.. or journalist may be willing to give you 30 seconds of their undivided attention.’ Thriving in a Challenging Environment: The Advantages of Going Green Your green business has something beneficial to its elevator pitch that your competitors likely don’t have: a compelling ‘hook’. when the doors open. trade shows. partner. and how to know when it needs a change. Sound preposterous? It’s not. hopefully winning hearts. investors. all because you’ve honed a 30-second ‘elevator pitch. Green Business Owner 2 Crafting An Effective Elevator Pitch . We then provide two tools to help you create your own elevator pitch: one for potential customers. and even your employees excited about your company and ready to find out more.. employee. And we all know how many chances you get to do that. we dissect the good and ‘not-so-good’ elevator pitches and boil them down to the essential elements you’ll want to include in yours. We follow that with a sampling of good and ‘not-so-good’ elevator pitches. volunteer. “I’ll have my secretary schedule you for next week. At Green Business Owner.Executive Summary The Elevator Pitch: Your Most Important 30 Seconds Entrepreneurs need an elevator pitch like a plant needs water. interested. job seekers. investor.” Elevator pitches are not just used for potential investors. the media. You can leverage the increasing interest in green business and sustainability. In part 2. minds and dollars. The name derives from the legend of an entrepreneur unable to get an appointment with a venture capitalist (VC). and wanting to know more. so instead he waits outside the VC’s office until he has the chance to jump on an elevator with the man. crafting a succinct message among potential customers. Weaving the theme of sustainability into your elevator pitch will greatly benefit the overall message. and any other event where a potential client. If you can quickly generate interest and curiosity in others. we discuss many ways an effective elevator pitch can benefit your business and how you should use it. Our final advice section advises you on the ongoing maintenance of your elevator pitch. it’s your chance to make a great first impression. in a way you can feel great about.. curious. They are crucial for networking functions.

where the investor is now a ‘captive audience’ for the short duration of the ride on the elevator. specialty coffees. With a good elevator pitch. flyers. your social media outlets and purchased advertisements. and desserts. As such. high-speed Internet. Don’t forget: What you are doing is interesting and important.Cafe Organique Not-So-Good: At Cafe Organique. newsletter. You need an “elevator pitch. Sample Good and Not-So-Good Elevator Pitches The ride up or down the elevator may only last 15-20 seconds. they may know others who are. but it’s difficult sometimes. At the very least. and pretty much every other business in the world trying to get their message to potential customers. It’s one of the best aspects of being a business whose mission contains aspects of sustainability. people who appreciate sustainability will be more interested. your website. But it’s not just networking events where your MarComm is competing with other messages. we serve pastries. Even if someone is not a potential customer. it is a ‘noisy’ environment. more attentive. This explains the popularity of business networking groups.Part 1 . and while unable to get an appointment with an investor. Twitter feeds. people’s attention spans for any particular message have dramatically dropped. Green Business Owner 3 Crafting An Effective Elevator Pitch . business cards.” The name is derived from a hypothetical example of a budding entrepreneur trying desperately to get funding for his business idea. and more likely to tell other people. personal connections and networking can be the most important aspect of MarComm. they might make it a point to pass the word on. It not only will help you directly make sales to potential customers.Effective Business Communications In Our Sound Byte Culture Why Do You Need an Elevator Pitch? Marketing communications (MarComm) include all the elements of your advertising/marketing/PR communications to your potential and existing customer base. and have practiced your pitch well enough. croissants. and hopefully become a customer. too. With smart phones and other mobile devices. they’re getting a lot of messages throughout the night. Your time is limited. has an unexpected opportunity as his or her potential funder steps onto an elevator with the entrepreneur. to impress them so much that they will remember you and what you do. and only a few of those messages will be remembered. Your elevator pitch is quite useful. text messaging. to make them want to know more. more likely to remember you. But if you’re good. email signature. as well. it may be enough time to make the sale. it will engage people to be excited about your company. For small businesses. It also includes you. So what do you say when you are first introduced to a potential customer? It’s your chance to wow someone. MarComm includes such components as brochures. and if they believe in your company. The inherent difficulty in networking is that your prospective customers are perhaps also meeting a lot of your competitors on the same occasion. and do some select light fare for lunch. Consider the following fictitious examples of good and bad elevator pitches: Fictitious Example 1 . We try to source organic as much as possible. We have outside seating on the sidewalk.

both use large applications of chemicals to treat garden areas. but still want a beautiful landscape. we use a state-of-the-art cleaning solution called EcoGrinder. Green Business Owner 4 Crafting An Effective Elevator Pitch . eco-friendly office supplies and a satisfaction guarantee. People dine in our cozy interior or out on a spacious veranda on sunny days. Good: At Jack’s. Not-So-Good: At Bill’s. and folders with high recycled content in many of our products. Good: EcoGardens works with clients who are concerned about exposing their children and pets to toxic chemicals traditionally used in lawn care services. Martin Works actually uses genetically engineered seeds that are unnaturally resistant to chemicals. meeting people. the effervescence then forces the crystals back up and they get sucked back into our machine. Two of my competitors. Inc. working on laptops. We even let people trade things in when they’re done using them. Fictitious Example 2 . and I do marketing consulting for small green businesses. Fictitious Example 3 . drinking coffee. natural enzymes.theirs always leaves a lingering chemical odor. Sometimes our customers just stay throughout the day. which then reuses them in the next pass. and customers really love how clean their carpets get and how they don’t have to open windows or hear their employees grumbling about how bad it smells. elegant designs with native plants and organic treatments that are both eye-catching and eco-friendly. LLC Not-So-Good: EcoGardens offers a much more environmentally friendly alternative to other landscape maintenance companies. and I work with small business owners who have a great green story to tell. but struggle to reach new customers. so no chemical residue there. Good: Bill’s Green Clean services residential and commercial customers with a chemical-free cleaning process. the cool part is. My clients have reported finding new markets they’d not even considered. Good: I’m Jenna Pancote.Bill’s Green Clean Carpet Solutions. I like to help businesses get their message out effectively and communicate with their key stakeholders in the sustainability community by implementing the power of consistency and brand messaging to achieve success. It all gets forced down into the carpet and. and eating breakfast and lunch. paper. our business customers tend to save 20% on office supplies when they do business with us. Fictitious Example 5 .EcoGardens. is our exchange program . which degrades to water and oxygen. soufflés and croissants that absolutely melt in your mouth. We use an advanced technology called EcoGrinder. so that they can put extra chemicals on everything and not kill the grass they’ve planted.Jack’s Office Supplies Not-So-Good: Jack’s adapts to changing market demand in selling office supplies like stationery. It’s got this unique combination of effervescence from hydrogen peroxide. It’s a really fun environment. pens. though. We create healthy. Our competitors can’t offer this kind of service . Fictitious Example 4 . What really sets us aside. Martin Works and Blue Field Maintenance. We’ve been in business for 14 years and are currently renovating our store to start offering office furniture. Marketing Consultant Not-So-Good: I’m Jenna Pancote. Over the long haul.Good: Cafe Organique serves up delicious French-inspired cuisine like pastries.Jenna Pancote. we provide small businesses with competitively priced. and granular sand crystals that physically remove dirt and other debris from carpet. and typically see a lot of new faces in their store after I’ve told their story.allowing a company with changing needs to trade in reusable items and gain credit toward new purchases.

and thinks you will. In addition. the not-so-good. too. EcoGardens. at least in any sense that potential customers who are not in Jenna’s field could comprehend.How boring is the ‘not-so-good’ pitch? I was yawning just writing it. Enthusiasm and energy that is contagious 4. but there is no reason to start the conversation there . Cafe Organique . That’s confidence in your product.. it’s hard to be too over-exuberant.. Jenna uses clear language and conveys some of the experiences that her customers feel in a way that is relevant to new potential customers. Think how the customer might feel. Using clear language and being comprehensible is tantamount to getting your message across. if you’re a carpet scientist. There is also a great temptation of trying to sound smart. not only does it make you appear back-stabbing. You will have to be able to answer questions as they come up about why you are better than your competitors. Avoid the nitty-gritty! It is important to show your competitive advantage and the problem you solve. . Inc. the just plain ugly. is your deGreen Business Owner 5 Crafting An Effective Elevator Pitch . and leave it at that. Hook them in by simply saying what your competitive advantage is. it will come across just fine. Most potential clients would have tuned out at the first mention of enzymes. Some critical elements of a successful elevator pitch are: 1. Avoiding in-depth technical details 7. and speak the language so fluently that they forget others don’t. The pitch is bland. or wants to feel. Don’t overdo it.rather. Jack’s Office Supplies . Focus on your product or service 3. it has the unintended effect of making your customer remember your competitors’ names more than yours. and that’s not good for an eatery. There is no ‘feeling’ involved. Effectively communicating your competitive advantage 8. but in a 20-second pitch. they will ask.What language is Jenna speaking in the ‘not-so-good’ pitch? Whatever it is. If they are really curious about your technology or how you make your product.The ‘not-so-good’ pitch spends more time talking about competitors than about itself. Her customers are just numbers and lines on a spreadsheet. Your pitch needs to show some enthusiasm and energy for your business. you can give them more details. The ‘good’ pitch shows that the person has tasted the food. Bill’s Green Clean Carpet Solutions. who are experts in their own field.What is lacking in the ‘not-so-good’ pitch? Confidence in the product or service. Notice that in the good pitch. Jenna forgets to provide any sense of the experience of working with her. and something impossible to convey in examples like the ones above. The good. potential clients will mentally tune out before you can begin your next sentence.Bill provides a level of detail that is quite interesting . Too much enthusiasm is not recommended either. have those answers ready should the questions come up. So let’s recap. If you’re smart. Clearly stating the problem you solve Another key element to remember. Conveying a sense of the experience of being a client of your company 6. Confidence in your offerings 2. Marketing Consultant .Part 2 . or your customer won’t be excited about it either. Using clear language 5. loves it. But if you appear as an out-of-touch egghead. when they hear about your service. The more you mention competitors. Jenna Pancote. Focus on your company! This is your one chance to get your brand to stick with a potential customer.Create Your Elevator Pitch Elements of a Great Elevator Pitch Let’s start by reviewing the elevator pitches above. but the way you go about it is much more effective if you keep it at the level of your customer’s interest. This is a fairly common problem for many entrepreneurs. it’s not English. and at that point. LLC .

‘focused’. Perform your pitch in front of a group of people you trust will give you honest feedback. We suggest three important sentence stems for creating a terrific elevator pitch. 2. you only get one chance to make a first impression. “My clients are.” For Green Business Owner. and what you want people to see of you. potentially indicating you’re not entirely sure about something?).. and afterwards. ask your target audience for suggestions to bring you closer to the adjectives you originally wanted. communicates at a level that is sometimes perceived much more clearly than what we are saying. so that you can give it in a credible. often very subconsciously. Here. A sentence stem is the beginning (or fragment) of a sentence that has no formulated end. ‘insightful’.. ask them what adjectives they’d use to describe your body language.livery itself. ‘confident’. and other equity players (i.. Note that you don’t have to use these sentence stems verbatim (word-for-word).including your body language pitch. The second tool is more appropriate for creating elevator pitches for potential investors. It’s a terrific tool for thinking about the possibilities you’d like to explore with your elevator pitch. showing a lack of confidence? Did you shrug your shoulders slightly. ‘smart’.. Brainstorm some adjectives you want your listener to think of when they see your body language. they have the experience of. we present two different approaches to creating your best elevator pitch. Ask them if there was anything in particular about your ‘movement signature’ that made them identify those particular adjectives (i.. if you are looking for someone to buy your company from you). This will largely be a function of the kind of industry you’re in.. but you’ll have the chance to hone your pitch . etc. “Green Business Owner works with current or aspiring green business owners.” 2. If the two sets of adjectives don’t match up. partners. By working with us.. Thus. 3.’ How we use our bodies. and be able to follow up on additional questions or when a positive (or negative) response is expressed by a potential customer. ‘powerful’. The “sentence stem” is most applicable for pitching to potential customers. did you take a subtle step back. they get practical tools that leverage the power of sustainability to solve their business challenges. then.” 3.e. positive way.. at a price they can afford. 1.. This is perhaps more true in networking than in just about any other kind of social interaction (except. we’ll add an ninth element: 9. you’ll not only get great feedback on your subconscious communication.e. 2. It is also effective as a ‘written’ elevator Green Business Owner 6 Crafting An Effective Elevator Pitch . Two Tools for Creating Your Dynamite Elevator Pitch As the saying goes. who can’t afford a traditional consultant but still need expert help with sustainable business strategy.. This could be ‘strong’. perhaps. Think of how you might use similar language to shape your own pitch with these cues. dating).” How’d we do? Now try yours. “When they work with me. You and your staff should have your delivery practiced and down pat. Here’s how to hone your ‘movement signature’: 1. 3. 1. “Who have the challenge of. From this exercise. Your delivery This is often described as a ‘movement signature.

For a potential investor or partner. but that.Who are they going to be? Comparisons . they have access to [Opportunity]. Green Business Owner 7 Crafting An Effective Elevator Pitch . Our service is not so different than traditional consulting services. We work with small business owners in the sustainability sector who face challenges such as how to recruit and motivate employees who share their values. gives compelling reasons why someone would be interested in investing. it communicates who we are. practice. with our approach. and includes several MBA’s who share a passion for sustainability and have worked for some of the big consulting firms. Keep this simple and straightforward. By partnering with us.What is the hole in the market you’re looking to fill? Company . You’ll want to be comfortable and confident in your delivery. except that we are affordable for and focus on small business owners [Comparisons].Who are you and your employees. Further. from memory. Our team is led by Scott Cooney (MS. We think there is a big need in the small business community for Fortune 500 management consulting and strategy tools that they normally couldn’t afford. For a networking event. though alternatively. We truly are an interesting breed. and you should be able to recite your elevator pitch(es).Provide a call to action by presenting multiple (2 is recommended) options to your prospect. how to raise money from investors looking to finance green businesses. author of Build a Green Small Business (McGraw-Hill). then. well. for example. Offering . You’ll be at a networking event listening to others talk about their business and patiently waiting for your opportunity. and. and why are you the people to do the job right? Catch . You’ll know it when it happens.What is your offering similar to? Opportunity . acronyms. genuine. Another thing to keep in mind is that there will come a time when your pitch has officially expired. If you’re interested in becoming an equity partner. with little variation. This approach is a bit more complex. The opportunity. and how to do market research on green consumers [Customers]. so Green Business Owner used some of our MBAskills1 to create an acronym (“OCCOCCO”) that is also a palindrome (spelled same backwards and forwards) to help you remember it. you will want to have an elevator pitch that focuses on your services. looks legitimate. in a natural and flowing way. “What about you? What do you do?” You start giving your 1 This is our attempt to poke fun at our MBA brethren around the world.pitch . we have room for someone with your talents. and the pitch will be longer.for an introductory email to a new potential customer or on the ‘about us’ page of your website. you might just consider an equity purchase and a seat on our Board of Advisors [Options]. Someone turns to you and says. Go ahead and write them down. you’d have the opportunity to revolutionize the economy by helping thousands of small. intriguing! Final Advice You will want to have a couple of elevator pitches at your disposal. and does a good job of not overselling it. green businesses succeed [Catch]. Customers . then. Our pitch to investors there is 230 words. For Green Business Owner. our pitch to an investor or potential partner using this tool might be: Green Business Owner leverages the power of sustainability to provide affordable coaching and consulting services to small business owners that save them time and money while solving common business problems [Offering]. practice.What is there to interest an investor--why would they want to be involved? Options . MBA).What is the product or service? Be careful not to go into too much detail. Just one of our quirks is that we love to invent catchphrases. including McKinsey and Company and Saatchi & Saatchi S [Company]. and takes less than a minute to say. and box-and-arrow diagrams. you’ll want to have a more high-level pitch that encapsulates your business plan and the long term profitability of your business. And practice.

before you can make others get excited about it. The exercise should be fun and enlightening. You may learn more about your business. Periodically changing an elevator pitch is routine for a most small business owners. Fun is the key. but something goes wrong. too. “That’s nice. it’s time to reevaluate.pitch. You need to get yourself excited about your business again. then your elevator pitch needs to change. and it shows. It’s worked so well for so long. why you’re in it. it’s REALLY time to make a shift. You feel it. meaning that your MarComm will have to change. You’ve practiced it a million times. You know it backwards and forwards. If your customers’ experiences don’t accurately reflect the experience your pitch conveys. too. smiles and maybe a response like. If you enjoy it. But this time. If your pitch contains language around a product or service that you’ve stopped offering or overhauled. and why you love it each time you go through the process of changing your elevator pitch. from time to time. your potential customers will likely enjoy the result. Green Business Owner 8 Crafting An Effective Elevator Pitch . your enthusiasm just isn’t there. You and your business are not immune from this universal law. No problem! Start at the top of this document and work your way through it. And if you can’t even convince yourself.” What happened? The only constant in life is change. and you can see it on the faces of others as they react to your subdued attitude with polite nods.

or significant portion of a sentence.. For example.Abbreviation for Marketing Communications. Green Business Owner 9 Crafting An Effective Elevator Pitch . fragments. a sentence stem is the beginning. “My ideal day is.A useful tool for generating content..Glossary of Terms MarComm . Sentence stem .Appendix 1 . which include all the elements of your advertising/marketing/PR communications to your potential and existing customer base. which eventually trails off so that you can fill in the blank..” This particular sentence stem might help you decide what to do with the rest of your day. It’s an exercise that can help you generate a lot of different ideas around a particular subject.